Monday, December 30, 2013

The curmudgeon

The curmudgeon's  a sharp man, a wily, mean codger,
His handle's just right for a curt, artful dodger;
A miserable man in a state of high dudgeon,
He trumpets his stand about things he won't budge on.

He digs in his heels, and makes mock of your whinging,
Destroying your protests with words that are singeing.
He trashes all reason as his arguments burgeon,
He cuts your defense with the skill of a surgeon.

Half-truths are his weapons, high mountains of word-sludge,
Obfuscation's his pleasure, cementing his grudge.
When you're backed in a corner, beginning to hedge,
You'll cry out for mercy, a gift he won't pledge.

The ironic cause for your pleas and your cudgeling?
He  revels in fighting and enjoys all your fudging.
He's happiest when he sees victory tangible,
And loves to destroy anyone who is frangible.

Monday, December 23, 2013

How sad, when first love dies

How sad, when first love dies,
Turned to dust, turned to dust,
How sad, when passion dries,
As it must, as it must

How sweet it was, love sighs,
Turned to dust, turned to dust,
How sweet what fate denies,
As it must, as it must

How cruel to miss the prize,
Turned to dust, turned to dust,
How cruel when first love dies,
As it must, as it must

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Polluting the planet

The world should have been called Water, not Earth;
Three-quarters liquid, scientists relate;
The magic stuff was what allowed our birth
On this tiny rock, this prime real estate.
The continents were just an after-thought,
Where air-breathers could try to win the race,
The prize was won when mankind fought,
and got the first seat at the food-chain place.
The ocean hasn't changed; still full of water,
But now it's full of junk as well, the trash
Tossed by mother, father, son and daughter,
Sure proof we value nothing more than cash.
It took three billion years to get this far;
One day, will Planet Water look like Mars?

Friday, December 13, 2013

On civility

Civility is more than just a word.
It cancels conflicts as it curbs the tongue;
Without the rancor bred of argument,
Each goal becomes a possibility.
Civility is always unrestrained,
And narrow dreams expand when opened up
By talking; fair words often change set minds,
Derail dissent, and lead to fair results.
Success occurs when civil men forswear
Dispute and build new ways to understand
The issues, using diplomatic means
To settle common problems without strife.
Great honor comes to those who compromise,
To civil men who shake each others' hands.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Shall I, or shan't I?

In the US
I must confess,
We seldom use "shan't."

 It's not that we can't.
It's not that we won't.
It's just that we don't.

Another way

They buy the stories, these "invincibles,"
Bright young men maimed, or killed in bloody war.
They bear their arms for "sacred" principles,
And gain much praise as old men keep the score.
The honesty and energy of soul,
That send a feckless soldier off to fight,
Could be used to seek a better goal,
To work for peace, to battle for what's right.
What book declares disputes must end in death?
What twisted father wants his son to kill?
What does it prove, to hear his son's last breath?
Does "Taps" provide the patriot a thrill?
We know the answer, and it lies within;
We live for war; when will peace begin?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Death's design is always fair

Death's design is always fair;
He does his job everywhere,
And he doesn't even care
If you dance like Fred Astaire,
Win at cards, or shoot a bear.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Do you remember Cousin Grace?

Do you remember Cousin Grace?
Now "she's in a better place."

She "shuffled off this mortal coil,"
She's "gone to where there is no toil."

She's "up in heaven," where, I know
She "watches out" for us below.

Such euphemisms coyly try
To mask the truth that people die.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Generation gap

We got a buzz from beer and gin,
The younger guys spazzed out on pot;
To us, our kind of life was in,
To younger guys, so very not.

We thought we were cool and macho;
The younger guys just rolled a joint,
Drank cheap wine, and ate some nachos,
Got paranoid, and missed our point.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Three cheers for the old cliche

While the sun shines, let's make hay, 
And celebrate the old cliche.
Treat it well, and show respect,
 It's language that we should protect.
And don't forget a stitch in time;
I needed one to make this rhyme.

What you see, is what you get;
Are you growing tired yet?
Still waters run so very deep; 
Misfortune makes the angels weep.
What can we do? That's life, they say,
We'll have to strive another day.

One cliche that I like states:
All things will come to he who waits.
Time and tide await no man;
They rue the day, who never plan.
They say we reap just as we sow.
I learnt that very long ago.

Cliches can make a further point:
They soothe when times are out of joint.
They telegraph ideas and notions,
Steady conversation's motion.
No use complaining, so they say;
No one will listen, anyway.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Getting taller, getting smaller

Much time has passed by since Dad and I had a visit.
On that day, he looked puzzled, and I asked, "What is it?"
"You've grown taller," he said, "Since I saw you last."
"That's untrue," I replied, "My growth days have now passed."

"People gain their full height by late teens, that I know;
I'm well past that time," I said, with some woe.
He shook his head sagely, "It can happen," he said.
"Reptiles keep on growing up until they are dead."

I let it go; if I agreed, he would hurry
To cite some statistics and facts in a flurry.
My father delighted in telling tall stories
Of dining with princes, and other past glories.

If I gave him his head, he'd elaborate tales
Of genial genies making friends with blue whales.
My Dad was well-versed in a magical series
Of antic events and marvelous theories.

The truth of the matter? I think you'll agree;
As we age we get shorter, it's just gravity.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Talking trash

I should have buttoned up my lip;
I asked, "Please, would you take the trash?"
Groceries brought, he was set to dash,
(But not before he got a tip).

He took it, but his look was pained.
Did I assault his self-esteem?
Why else be upset as he seemed?
His manner brusque, his politeness feigned.

Was my request too much to ask?
Less like a plea, than a command?
I needed him to give a hand,
The matter was a simple task.

These days I find that walking's hard,
A trip downstairs, a little rough,
And what I asked was small enough;
The trash bin's right there in the yard.

"Don't take advantage," mom would scold,
"Well-brought-up people never do;
And try to wear the other's shoes."
I memorized that precept cold.

Did I invade some private space?
Was my request too much for him,
One taken as too burdensome,
That weighed upon his sense of place?

If he comes back, next time I'll be
A master of gentility,
And make sure that I never bash
His self-esteem, by talking trash.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How many houses should a rich man own?

How many houses should a rich man own?
Does it affect the homeless on the street?
Or is that question better left alone?
Would it annoy the rich if they should meet?
And good health care, is that a right at all,
In the land of the brave, home of the free,
Or just an empty prospect, still in thrall
To political expediency?
And what about the burdened middle class,
Its dreams on hold, jobs lost, and homes foreclosed,
While rich men quaff their champagne by the glass?
Is modern life the way that we supposed?
Is life unfair? You've every right to ask;
To reason why's the unforgiving task.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I swallow too much coffee

I swallow too much coffee, and also, too much tea,
I know that aitch-two-oh is the better drink for me.

Water has no flavor, and without a special taste,
Drinking plain old water seems like such a silly waste.

I'm not knocking water; I drink it when I'm thirsty,
But I prefer my coffee, and if it's gone, my tea.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I used to think that sleep was not for me

I used to think that sleep was not for me;
It stole my share of time, when time should last
To use each second to capacity,
And make each moment's value unsurpassed.
I cheated sleep's designs and slaked my thirst
For friendships, conversations, songs to sing;
Why go to sleep? Making love came first,
Pernicious time was always on the wing.
Today the tables are reversed; I chase
Sleep's pleasures every chance I can, and yet
She plays coy games and shows a lack of grace,
Not staying long enough, to my regret.
The old expression's true, its message strong;
We always value something when it's gone.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The seasons keep on changing

Each year we see the earth affirm her strength
By cleaning house, and setting things to rights;
The harvest in, she smiles and rests at length,
And welcomes shorter days and longer nights.
Fleet spring and verdant summer have their days,
Resplendent days, when life laughs loud to see
Unfettered fertile vistas, bright displays
Of new growth in an infinite degree.
Some think that autumn heralds a decline,
A dissolution, in the dearth of growth;
In fact, she stands for something pure and fine,
Renewal, guaranteed by nature's oath.
Though summer always yields to winter's claim,
The flame of life keeps burning just the same.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

False impression

I fancied her, and thought that she was sweet;
But soon, I learned I fancied her too well.
I thought her beauty made my life complete,
But looks can hide an easy road to hell.
I'd made my love a Hollywood romance,
A story doomed by life, and quite unfair.
In honesty, it never had a chance;
In truth, she was no goddess past compare.
In time, all my devotion turned to dust;
"It's better now, than later on," I said.
The happy ending, now no more discussed,
My ardent dreams of bliss woke up, and fled.
My plans for life with her all came to naught,
Though she once churned my every waking thought.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I thought I'd found what it was meant to be

I thought I'd found what it was meant to be,
(I'd joined the foolish treasure hunt anew).
I saw it as a sweet complicity,
A refuge for two souls, forever true.
The truth, borne in upon me much too soon,
Revealed that I would never reach my goal.
My gallant ship was breached, and left in ruin,
A wreck, athwart an unsuspected shoal.
I'd studied hard, but failed to pass the test,
And though I thought I knew Love's arcane ways,
I found that my departure would be best,
To guard the harvest of my precious days.
Reality soon wins, though we may try
Our best; awake, the sweetest dreams can die.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Just like heaven

The problem with Utopia? It's such a bloody bore;
A perfect place and people, artificial to the core,
Utopia means nowhere; it was coined from ancient Greek;
It paints a rosy picture of a world no one should seek.

Why rant about Utopia? The place can never change;
It celebrates a static life no one can rearrange.
Imagine: no excitement, nothing novel, always tame,
With each new day like all the rest, not new, but just the same.

The sun is always shining, the good weather never stops,
It only rains when you're asleep, to irrigate the crops;
Every face is smiling, you don't dare to wear a frown,
All married folks are faithful, no one ever plays around.

All the questions have been answered, and every mountain scaled;
The goals of life are in your hand, all problems long derailed,
In Utopia, life is perfect in every single way;
All uncertainty's been banished, and boredom rules the day.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I learnt to treasure time, yet mourn its frantic pace

I learnt to treasure time, yet mourn its frantic pace,
The years and decades flown without a trace.
Time waxes, wanes and swells and shrinks our interlude;
We grasp at time and wonder, shorn of certitude.

But as time runs its fluid course, I have to ask
What can it mean, why weight us with this cryptic task?

We search for confirmations, truths we can defend,
As meretricious time eludes us at the end.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

That special person

Was she the special person meant for me,
The love they write of in a thousand songs,
The steadfast friend who laughs or weeps, as we
Face challenges, make choices, right or wrong?
At school, I saw her walking in the hall,
And once, we spoke when passing on the stair,
And often, in my dreams, I heard her call
My name, a whisper on the summer air.
I should have told her where my heart was set;
Too shy to speak, I let her walk away,
And watched her as she left, with sharp regret,
Too late to voice the words that I should say.
That memory remains, that scene appears
As vivid now, as then, down through the years.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Living alone can be a joy,
Provide a home for happiness,
With leave to grow and to employ
The range of talents you possess;

To mull the possibilities
Of forming friendships, of romance;
To use all your abilities
And make the most of every chance.

Solitude: safe harbor and peace,
A welcome place where you may change
The rules and see your luck increase,
With limits only you arrange.

The single life can be the root,
A golden opportunity,
The basis for a firm pursuit,
Of life lived in tranquility.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The no-nonsense taste of hot black coffee

The no-nonsense bite of hot black coffee,
Like magic, banishes the stuff of sleep,
A cobwebbed word, a garbled phrase or two,
Fragments of dreams, now only half-recalled.

The morning's stillness soothes, providing refuge,
A safe haven to cherish and protect,
And I celebrate enfolding silence,
A companion of my meditations.

Soft rays of early sun shoo dawn away;
Their strength increasing, they weaken
The somber shadows, chase the sullen ghosts,
Reject the dark, replacing it with light.

Bolder brushstrokes from the sun's varied palette
Now add subtler textures to the outline
Of the room; I sip more coffee and muse
About the words I need to write my poem.

Pinwheeling particles of poetry,
Sorted from the random bits and pieces
Of an improvisational display,
Start coalescing into narrative.

Demurely, morning tiptoes quietly,
For fear she might distract me from the hoard
Of words and images I choose among,
But pleased about the work that lies ahead.

Friday, August 23, 2013

We ought to get rid of "boffin"

We ought to get rid of terms like "nerd,"
But "boffin" is worse, a terrible word!
It's common in England, Scotland and Wales,
Denoting scientists, usually males.
But here, in the States, I'll never soften,
I swear I'll never call you a "boffin."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Don't mourn the girl who got away

Don't mourn the girl who got away,
The one you loved more, every day.
Recall? The girl you had to wed,
Your one true love, or, so you said.
Would it have lasted through the years,
Through highs and lows, through laughs and tears?
Would she prove right, at your behest,
Make bad times good, and good times best?
Would loving her avoid the woes
That life doles out to friends and foes?
Or would your life have been the same
If that someone had a different name?

The regulars retell stale jokes

The regulars retell stale jokes, their lame
Attempt to chase away the purple funk
That makes each Friday night seem just the same.
They laugh, and watch each other getting drunk.
The weekend's burdens loom, a dull regime;
Saturday's chores and Sunday's stifled grace
Brood grey and tattered, like a formless dream
That fades from memory and leaves no trace.
Frustrations tear the drinkers to the core,
Each one is trying harder to downplay
The crushing loneliness they can't ignore,
While pushing their own neediness away.
The jukebox keeps on playing one sad song;
They hardly notice, yet they sing along.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jack Kennedy, in sixty-one

Jack Kennedy, in sixty-one
Told Congress, "There's a race to run;
Let's reach the moon, let's jump the gun!."

"The times were changin', Dylan sang,
From Liverpool, the Beatles sprang,
And through our land, new music rang.

The good times only roll so far,
Bad things can happen, and they mar
The luster of the brightest star.

That November twenty-three,
The nation sang a threnody
For murdered John F. Kennedy.

Next year, the Civil Rights Act passed,
A law to right some wrongs at last,
Although the work ahead was vast.

Great riots roared, and cities burned
All through the sixties, unrest churned,
A grim response of people spurned.

Soon women learned of their mystique,
As Friedan's book provoked the meek,
And feminists began to speak.

In sixty-eight, new gunshots ring,
When James Earl Ray kills Dr. King,
Providing one more dirge to sing.

Than Jack's brother ran for president
That June, his foul murder sent
Good reason for a third lament.

In Vietnam we suffered more,
And thousands died in pointless war;
As politicians kept the score.

The nation wept beneath its load,
The war drums beat as fury strode,
And marched with death down killing's road.

A generation wanted change,
The flower children pushed exchange
Of war for peace, within their range.

When Mary Jane informed the crew,
"Turn on, drop out," the message flew,
"Make love, not war, that's what we do!"

At college, near and far away,
The students ragged on LBJ;
"How many kids'd you kill today?

Their anger toppled his regime,
With opposition so extreme,
He quit the race, ran out of steam.

The protesting was all about
A senseless war, death's heavy clout,
With "Time for peace!"its constant shout.

What did they want, those kids, now old?
A chance to watch the years unfold,
With normal lives, their stories told.

In sixty-nine, we reached the moon,
The mission done, so opportune;
Jack's promise kept, and mankind's boon.

Let;s sum it up, here's what we got;
War crushed the dreams of Camelot,
And mocked improvements that we wrought.

The decade left a bitter taste,
But still, it wasn't all a waste,
Some good was done, some gains embraced.

Some progress came, for all to see,
More civil rights, more liberty,
But at what cost, what misery?

We yearned for peace; instead, war came,
We saw the bombs and bullets maim
The innocent, their world in flame.

Good will and peace remain the goal,
Although ill deeds still take their toll,
And try the patience of the soul.

Yet men can be both brave and good,
They try for better, and they should,
To build a world in brotherhood,
A dream that's still not understood.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The single life's not meant for all

The single life's not meant for all;
Some need a friend they can install,
A partner, when the going's tough,
To share good times and when it's rough.

An empty house to some, seems bleak,
They need companions, want to speak;
A TV show's no substitute
For pleasant talks without dispute.

Dumb arguments can ruin your fun,
And leave a bad taste, when they're done;
Living alone, you never spat!
Unless you're yelling  - at the cat.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Youth's tenderness was made for love

Youth's tenderness was made for love,
In hot pursuit, she sought the best,
A magic feast, a treasure trove;
Youth spread her wings on life's bright quest.
Youth's years were good, the pleasures found
She thought would last eternally;
With lessons learned, and purpose sound,
Sweet youth was happy as could be.
Life pledged that youth would see no end,
She laughed, and gave a kindly wink,
And lying, promised gifts she'd send;
False friend, she knew youth's but a blink.
Brief fickle youth's not meant to stay;
Like winter's snow, she melts away.

Why is this time called middle age?

Why is this time called middle age?
For boomers, now it's all the rage.
For them, it starts real late; just think!
At sixty, they're still in the pink.

And sixty isn't even old,
It's very youthful, so we're told
By experts oh-so-serious;
The news makes us delirious!

The story's out; it's plain to see
That boys and girls like you and me
Should jump for joy and shout with glee;
Now sixty is the new forty!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Deft Leonardo slowed his pace

Deft Leonardo slowed his pace,
Uncertain how to draw her face.
Her smile, paint it as he would,
Was sure to be misunderstood.

The smile smacked of mystery,
Of secrets lost to history;
What brushstrokes could his art equate
To shed light on that opaque trait?

What caused that pleased indulgent look,
What clever plans filled up her book?
What goals did Mona Lisa seek,
What did her cryptic gaze bespeak?

If Leonardo were to tell,
If he explained his ideas well,
We still would fail to get, or find
A clue to what was on her mind.

Back then I thought my grandfather was old

Back then I thought my grandfather was old
(His hair was white, and I was very young).
His boyhood, long behind him, he extolled
In stories freighted full of deeds he'd done.
We sat upon the porch those summer eves;
He smoked cigars, and talked about his youth,
Recalling the bright plans he once conceived,
Before life's needs became his higher truth.
I'm older now, than he was at that time,
And understand the yearnings of his heart;
I joined the race, and ran it in my prime,
Like him, made plans that changed right from the start.
Life gives us leave to balance wrong and right,
As we await the coming of the night.

Friday, August 2, 2013

It's lonely, sleeping with a stranger

It's lonely, sleeping with a stranger in a queen-sized bed;

It's lonely eating breakfast, when everything's been said;

It's lonely in a silent house, when you ignore her tread;

It's lonely when you face the fact the marriage is long dead

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Just yesterday, I started school

Just yesterday, I started school,
And learned the use of every rule;
High school and college whizzed on past,
A pleasant blur that went too fast.

Then I got married one fine day,
Had kids to raise, and bills to pay,
Resigned myself to the commutes,
To profit from each day's pursuits.

Then one day, it became quite clear;
Much time had passed, year after year;
Tomorrow wasn't far away...
And I just started... yesterday.

There's nothing wrong with being old

There's nothing wrong with being old,
It comes to all, if truth be told.
The young think that the old are done,
And should stay home, their races run.

Our lives are chapters in a book,
And each one's worth a second look,
The pages full of joy and strife,
Both aspects of a busy life.

The young grow old, the old were young,
A fact on which the story's hung;
No use to grumble or to fear
The story's end, when bedtime's near.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The world renews itself each year

The world swings through vast changes every year,
From winter's blast to springtime's green foretaste
Of fertile summer's passionate career,
Then fall, and back to winter's cold embrace.
The planet spins, and whirls around the sun,
A dust mote flying in a plangent sky
Filled up with stars and galaxies beyond
The limitations of the mortal eye.
Slow time, a coruscating stream, that swells
And ebbs, oblivious to man's estate,
Uncaring, fills reality's deep wells,
And, conspiring with chance, ignores our fate.
First good, then evil, gain supremacy,
As waves of change roll on eternally.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Writing poetry

The poem is sparked by a phrase, half-heard on television,
An image, song, or memory I barely can envision;
I pour a cup of coffee, and immediately forget it;
Other things are on my mind, and I will never let it
Be said that I'd ignore important chores I have today,
By fiddling with a wispy thought, or express it in a way
Requiring a scrap of paper, and a pen, but I write it down
Before it fades and loses color, texture, weight, and sound.

The day goes by quite pleasantly, I've hardly given thought
To whether I should write at all; how a picture might be caught
To crystalize the niggling something  that I feel, and then
It rushes right on back to me, and I retrieve my pen,
Begin my writing earnestly, and focus on the mood
Of what I want to seize, and limn its attitude.
The hours fly, I concentrate on rhythm, rhyme and stress;
At first I choose words carelessly, but try to pick the best.

At last, the poem is finished, and it seems to be complete;
I walk away and let it age; I know from past defeat
That time will make me change my mind, frustrating what I seek;
The perfect word or artful phrase, which nuances to tweak.
Because perceptions change, the poem will never satisfy;
Ten years from now, or twenty, something wrong will catch my eye,
And make me choose new words and rhymes to change my verse.
How I write my poems is both a blessing, and a curse.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The book of life

The time has come to turn a page.
The book of our reality
Demands it at a certain age;
It's just a technicality.

The story started long ago,
With high and low points on the way,
Some chapters fast, some chapters slow;
It still goes on, and that's okay.

Attention matters most of all;
The plot's a mystic, tangled text,
Its twists and turns too hard to call.
Just turn a page, and see what's next.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

We sipped sweet coffee, buttered toast, and planned a quiet day

We sipped sweet coffee, buttered toast, and planned a quiet day,
While New York rubbed her bleary eyes and tucked away her dreams.
Washington Square's trees were frolicking in summer green,
On a morning long ago, when we were young.

On Fifth Avenue, we watched last night pack her bags and leave,
As shadows melted fast before the rising of the sun;
New York, awake, rolled out of bed, stood up and stretched her arms,
On a morning long ago, when we were young.

We talked and talked and window-shopped on our way to Central Park,
Till time went slow, and slower still, our purpose soon forgotten;
Instead, we laughed, held hands and kissed, and dawdled as we strolled,
On a morning long ago, when we were young.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The dead are never silent

The dead are never silent, though one would think they'd be,
Encoffined at their rest in tiny plots of earth;
No more among us, headstones marking where they lie
In serried ranks arranged on well-trimmed verdant fields.

The living muddle through the business of each day;
Life is for the living, and the dead? Dead and gone;
But time's passage allows for lyric tales to grow,
Nostalgic histories, enhanced each passing year.

In our dreams, the dead look vulnerable, and young;
Much younger than we are now, and their laughter rings,
As they smile and talk about a lemon-yellow future,
Where we live now, but they do not; or so it seems...

Not really gone, the dead still speak and make their case;
Unembarassed ghosts, contributing with gusto,
Pronouncing approbation, or dire admonitions;
Adding to life's tapestry, they still live.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I read a "poem" the other day

I read a poem the other day
That looked like prose; that poet's way
To give expression to his art,
And bare his innovative heart.

He sang no music, made no rhyme,
As poets used to, at one time.
His poem dismissed rhythm's clout;
I am free verse, it seemed to shout.

Last century, some poets said,
Formal rules were justly dead;
Substance mattered, and with that aim,
Rebellious poets made that claim.

Some flourished, and they often found
Inventive ways to break new ground;
Readers called their verses jewels,
Brave poems freed from ancient rules.

Old rules were snubbed, and in their place
Typography helped fill that space
With novel tricks like broken lines
And other forms of new design

Today some poets, having thought,
Revisited the changes wrought;
Sometimes they rhyme out in the clear,
Tradition now their new frontier.

Returning to the older verse,
They needn't worry which comes first;
Now poets have a choice to make,
A choice they're always free to take.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The meaning of life

A young man had a question that he pondered every day,
No matter what he tried to do, it wouldn't go away.
He struggled with the matter, each morning, noon, and night,
And he couldn't let it go, he just had to get it right.

He never found an answer, although he knew one must exist,
He pledged that he would solve it; it was first upon his list.
The question burned inside him, and it stabbed him like a knife;
What does it mean, what's it about, what is this thing called life?

He knew that they could tell him, though he knew not who they were,
The project needed lots of work, with whom should he confer?
He started with his parents, mother, father, all the rest;
Surely, they'd have the answer, surely, they would know it best.

His mom referred him to his dad, as father should know best
How to clear up this conundrum and answer his request,
But father disappointed him, he said he didn't know,
And counseled that he seek his teacher's help on where to go.

Next Monday, at the end of class, the young man made his plea,
Dumbfounded, teacher shook her head, "Why are you asking me?
I've asked that question lots myself; I still don't have a clue.
It might suffice to ask your rabbi, that's what I would do."

That made sense; who better knew, than leaders of the spirit?
He'd get an answer to his question when the rabbi'd hear it.
Next weekend, after services, the young man made his pitch;
"Please, tell me, rabbi, what is life? Please, help me scratch this itch."

The rabbi paused, and stroked his beard, and shrugged with great regret.
"The question's bothered me as well; it's something I don't get."
Exasperated though he was, the youth would not give in.
The library became his haunt; he swore that he would win.

As each year passed, so fast, so fast, he still pursued his aim.
He traveled far, in constant search, and still no answer came.
And then one day he had some luck, he learned about a man
Who had the answers he would need on life's elusive plan.

In the mighty Himalayas, the wise man had his lair,
And meditated day and night, and lived on simple fare.
The young man raised somer cash, and flew to Nepal to resolve
The burning question that the wise man finally would solve.

He climbed into the mountains, searching for his saintly prey
Until he found him at his cave, on one resplendent day.
Lotus-clothed in but a loin-cloth, there the old man waited
Contemplating all the questions nature has created.

The young man was ecstatic, he'd reached his destination,
The years of searching had paid off; trembling with elation,
"Quick," the young man asked this simulacrum of Gandhi,
"Is there meaning to this life? Please, tell me, now I'm handy."

A smile lit up the old man's face, he gestured with his palm,
"I'm glad to help a pilgrim find the truth and offer balm.
The meaning of our voyage? I'll just say hosanna!
I learned it many years ago;  Life is a banana!"

The young man's face went deathly white, and then it flushed bright red.
He sputtered, at a loss for words, and finally, he said,
"You're telling me, after all this work to solve my query,
That life is just a fruit? That's nuts! I'm not buying any."

The old man frowned with puzzlement to see him so upset.
"You mean it's not? I got it wrong? That's dumb as I could get.
You're telling me that I'm not right? I am a Pollyanna!
Are you sure, really sure?You mean it's no banana?"

Then, suddenly the young man stopped; his head began to clear,
He knew the answer all along; it wasn't there or here,
"Life's just life," he said, "in London orTopeka.
It's not a complicated thing; now I know, Eureka!"


Friday, May 24, 2013

I strolled along the Seine to look

I strolled along the Seine to look
At scenes I'd gazed at in a book;
The solid strength of Notre Dame,
Quick boats that cleft the river's calm,
The Left Bank's bustling, lively throng,
The passing hubbub like a song,
The Eiffel Tower's silhouette,
Made Paris real, and yet, and yet...

I thought I'd lived here once before,
So long ago...familiar lore
Recalled on every narrow street,
With memories so sharp and sweet;
Was it my past, or did I see
An alternate reality,
A time that I had never known,
A place that I could never own?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Itr was quiet in America a thousand years ago

It was quiet in America a thousand years ago,
On a normal day, so still, you could almost hear the flowers grow.
The only sounds occurring by the woods or by the sea
Were the daily sounds of nature, singing out in harmony.

On the ground, or in the air, it hardly mattered which,
The silence was astonishing, its texture was so rich.
The forest sounds included those of deer and mountain lion;
With luck, when they were still, you might hear the soft breeze sighing.

The eastern natives had long-houses, built with sturdy trees,
They wielded home-made axes to erect their homes with ease.
In silence women tilled the fields, soft-treading men sought deer;
Each summer's menu featured fish, caught in a rustic weir.

The world you navigate today reverberates with sound,
From screeching brakes and honking horns, your ears are being drowned.
A million voices try to shout above the traffic's scream,
While quiet seems a precious prize you yearned for in a dream.

No way has been discovered to return us to the past;
You wouldn't be the first to hope, nor would you be the last.
But every now and then, it's good to leave the telephone,
To take a walk in silence, and enjoy its quiet tone.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

They marked me down for 10 o'clock

They marked me down for ten o'clock.
Not eight. Or nine. I had a lock.
I walked in early, per routine,
And signed the sheet; I knew the scene.

They put me in a little room,
I checked my watch, began to fume.
Ten minutes passed, and then ten more;
No doctor walked in through the door.

When sixty minutes' time had passed,
The doctor came! Oh, joy! At last!
I fixed her with a steely stare,
As she walked in without a care.

"My time's as valuable to me,
As yours to you, and it's not free."
She blushed, and muttered an excuse,
In fact, her reasons were profuse.

Exam time came again this year;
I thought I'd made my point quite clear,
But nothing changed, and she was late;
She held me up and made me wait.

If I were tardy, I would hear
Some silly nonsense hit my ear.
They'd try to charge a penalty;
How unsurprising that would be!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When I first looked and saw her eyes

When I first looked and saw her eyes
Were not a green I might devise,
Nor blue reflected in the skies
That arch above a pleasant day;
I have to think that they were grey.

Wine-dark and deep was Homer's sea,
On sun-filled days, both light and free,
But storms could void that tendency
And sometimes cast that tone away;
I have to think her eyes were grey.

Her eyes could never even hint
A color I could hope to mint;
No flower has that subtle glint,
Not green, not blue; how can I say?
I have to think her eyes were grey.

Perhaps I'm telling it all wrong?
I could describe her eyes in song,
The melody would be quite strong;
Yet somehow, music's not the way,
So I'll just say her eyes were grey.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nostalgia strikes us now and then

Nostalgia strikes us now and then,
The same for women as for men;
The "good old days," when we were young,
The fun recalled, the sweet songs sung.

In memory our youthful dreams
Were innocent, or so it seems.
Our parents taught us right from wrong,
How we'd succeed, and get along.

The life we lived so long ago,
Before we learned what we now know,
Sometimes was hard, and never tame,
Nostalgia's just a pleasant game.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Snow, drifting higher,
Black night making love to earth
By the forest wall